The Pig Yard

December 2013

This month has held a number of disappointments with the house build but we have come to realise that this was never going to be an easy path to travel. We have come to terms with many issues and are quite philosophical about the coming months and what may unfold.

Jane worked on her electoral registration canvassing even though it required a half hour drive through Scunthorpe to get to her villages. The whole process was made all the more difficult because some of the houses she was visiting were flooded when the river Trent burst it's banks in the worst tidal rise since 1953 (or so the newspapers were saying). She managed to finish her visits with a few days to spare before handing in her paperwork.

The build up to Christmas was quite fraught because Jane likes to browse the shops and Steve doesn't - it's a Venus and Mars thing. We managed to compromise and be patient with each other so we survived shopping trips to Lincoln, Scunthorpe and Grimsby.

Windows installed

Window Installation

Although the windows arrived on site in early November the builders didn't start to install them until the first week of December. On first viewing we were really pleased with our choice and the colour is really striking. Our joy was, however, short-lived as it turns out the fitting lugs were too long and they needed to return the long ones and get short ones. After much chasing the lugs eventually turned up three weeks later.

The first few windows were installed quite quickly but when they came to install the glass in the atrium and the bifold doors they came across more problems. By the time this became apparent they were into the Christmas close-down period and so technical advice from Velfac, the window suppliers, will not be available until the New Year.


Steve gave some of his time to the community web project he set up in Northamptonshire so when Jane saw an advert in a local paper asking for volunteers to work with young people setting up in business she thought Steve should apply.

He managed to get a reference from his old chief executive and a work colleague which were hopefully good but he still had to go through an interview process. Having worked with volunteers he thought this was a good idea because sometimes the wrong people put themselves forward for all the wrong reasons. He had a good interview and talked about his experiences when he was teaching and the many years managing staff in the IT industry.

He has been accepted and hopes to go for training in the spring however there is talk of him starting before he has been trained. They must be keen.

Prince's Trust

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

We drove down to Northampton for Jane's hospital appointment to check on her minor leg operation which thankfully proved benign.  We then caught a train down to London where Jane's brother, Richard, picked us up from Euston and we went out for a meal south of the river and close to Tower Bridge.

It was a lovely meal and gave us a chance to catch up although the restaurant was very noisy so it was difficult to hear what was being said across the table.

Worts Family Reunion

Jane's sister, Ruth, came over from Tasmania to spend some time with Jane's mother. Ruth has been putting together a memoir of Jane's mum's life and so it gave her an opportunity to discuss some of the finer details and to draw out some of the deeper memories.

Jane's mum had her 92nd birthday this month and although we couldn't get to the dinner (it was a Saturday lunchtime and we couldn't get down there in time) we did manage to meet up at the care home for a minor reunion.

Worts Family Reunion

Lincoln Christmas Shopping

Lincoln Christmas Shopping

Shopping in alien territory takes twice as long as when one is in familiar surroundings but of course this can be seen as an adventure however Steve didn't think so at Christmas as he does most of his Christmas shopping (what little there is) on-line.

Our morning spent in Lincoln proved to be the most rewarding with a good variety of shops and some excellent bargains. After the shopping was done we headed up the high street towards the cathedral and castle. This is a lovely area with unique, interesting shops and not many shoppers. The hill up is very steep and not something to be tackled in icy conditions.

After a not particularly special lunch in an Australian themed bar (don't ask us why) we headed back to the car. Car parking was easy to find although there weren't many free spaces and at one pound an hour it isn't particularly cheap but where is these days?

Site Visit

Our site visit mid December was another disappointment mainly because the roof has not been finished although at least a start has been made.

A lot of work has been going on inside the house such as the plumbing and electrics but until the building is weather tight there is a limit to what can be done. By the time the building trade closes down for the Christmas break our house still didn't have all the windows in, there were no doors, the atrium and studio glass was proving an installation nightmare and we didn't have a revised schedule of activity.

Roof Tiles

Land Drainage

Land Drainage

Because the site has a high water table Anglian Water insisted that we install a water attenuation system at great cost. During periods of heavy rain the system holds onto the water in large stone filled holes and slowly allows the water to flow into the main drainage system.

The builders don't believe it will make any difference because once it is full it will just run off into the main drains anyway. We couldn't have built on the site without the system so we had to do it. The most irritating thing is that there is no appeal - what Anglian Water say must be obeyed. Another privately owned monopoly wielding a great deal of power.

Dave & Lucie Move

Having sold their flat and their bungalow (plot 2) not ready, Dave and Lucie had no choice but to put their furniture into storage. The usual suspects all pulled together and helped them unload two van loads.

Thankfully the vans arrived 30 minutes apart which gave us time to unload the first before the second arrived.

With everything stowed away and locked up we headed for town where we had a hot drink and brunch. It was an event that brought back the team work we had when hot air ballooning. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

D&L Move

Upside to Christmas

The Upside to Christmas

Steve struggles to see many upsides to Christmas however we regularly call into the Steel Rooms in Brigg for a cuppa and they often have some very special cakes on display.

This mince pie was a work of art and it seemed a shame to eat it but fear not it was consumed alongside a huge pot of earl grey tea. Christmas doesn't get better than this.

Last Apples

Jane has been collecting apples from the small orchard alongside Manor Farm since we first moved in. She has been putting most of them in a basket for the locals to collect for free.

Here we are at the end of December and she picked the last two cooking apples, it has been a very fruitful year. There are still plenty of windfalls sitting at the base of the trees for the birds to peck at. These two will go into apple puree.

Last Apples of the Season

Jane wearing antlers

Christmas Day

We drove down to Northampton (Earls Barton) on Christmas Day to join the usual suspects at Nick & Val's house. We did try to go for a walk however the River Nene was in full flood and so we couldn't go too far without getting very wet.

We had an excellent Christmas dinner with all the usual accompaniments thanks to Val followed by fun and laughter with quizzes and crosswords. It's always good to get through Christmas Day without watching television.

Boxing Day morning, after breakfast, we all headed off in our different directions with us arriving back at Manor Farm in time for lunch.

New Year's Eve

We had a very pleasant New Year's Eve with Dave & Lucie and Nick & Val; unfortunately Graham & Sue couldn't make it.

D&L laid on an excellent buffet with bottles of wine and some bubbly. We then walked over to the Jolly Miller because they were putting on live music. We waited nearly an hour before they actually started and played music from the 90s none of which we readily identified so after a few songs we left. We sat around drinking, eating and watching Graham Norton followed by Jooles Holland through midnight until after 1pm when we drifted off to bed...

Happy New Year 2014

Next Month...

  • Watch the house progress - roof finished, windows installed, plaster board, driveway
  • Make more decisions about the house decoration
  • Dave & Lucie move into their new home

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